ELKHART LAKE, Wis., (August 18, 2001) -- Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) took another step in securing team owners, Keith Hylton, first ever CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at Road America on Saturday. Orsi toured the ...
ELKHART LAKE, Wis., (August 18, 2001) -- Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) took another step in securing team owners, Keith Hylton, first ever CART Toyota Atlantic Championship at Road America on Saturday. Orsi toured the 4.048-mile road course in 2:01.278 seconds (120.160 mph) shattering the 2000 record set by Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) which stood at 2:02.734 seconds (118.735 mph).
After winning his first career pole two races ago in Chicago, Orsi has went on a tear winning the next two poles including the one today at Road America. Orsi went on to win the previous two races when starting from the pole. (Chicago & Trois-Rivieres). The performance today allowed Orsi to add one point to his Championship lead, for a total of 26 points ahead of David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift). Rutledge will start beside Orsi on the front row tomorrow after turning in a time of 2:02.453 seconds (119.007 mph).
"We changed a bunch of stuff on the car for this morning's practice session and we improved our times a lot," said Brazil's Orsi. "So we knew what direction to go and changed a little bit more for qualifying. The car was handling perfect. I was not worrying about tows, just running clear in the front and putting some really good laps together. The team did an awesome job and I have to thank them and Kyle Brannon, my engineer."
Although the pole would have been nice for Rutledge who has won three races from there this season, he is comfortable with starting second beside Orsi. "I'm not too concerned about qualifying second here, because it's a historical fact at this track that the guy on the pole never leads the first lap. Drafting is so easy and important here that you're almost better off qualifying second or third. I had a lap going that was about half a second faster when I ran into some traffic, and there's still some time in the car with just a bit more development. We made some changes that helped the problem areas we had yesterday, but at some cost in other areas today. We'll spend the evening looking at the data and I'm sure we'll have a car to challenge for the win on Sunday."
Both drivers only had 22 minutes to qualify today for serving carry over penalties from stopping qualifying sessions at Trois-Rivieres. This worked in the pair's favor because with five minutes remaining in the session and both drivers in the pits serving their penalties, the expected rain arrived bringing out the red and checkered flags. At the same time, the cars of Stephan C. Roy (Duesenberg Brothers Racing/Western Union First Data Swift), Guy Cosmo (Duesenberg Brothers Racing/Western Union First Data Swift), and Frank Dancs (Condor Motorsports/Ariba Swift) slid off the slick course in Turns 1 and 2.
Rutledge's teammate, Jason LaPoint (Lynx Racing/Infinity Motorsports Swift), making his Atlantic debut this weekend at Road America, placed third in qualifying with a time of 2:02.588 seconds (118.876 mph). Fellow rookie, Jonathan Macri (P-1 Racing/NTN Bearings Swift) ran a 2:02.624 seconds (118.841 mph), good for fourth, tying his best qualifying effort which came at Chicago. The top four drivers were all under Basso's 2000 track record.
"Driving an Atlantic car is like F2000 in fast-forward, and the Lynx team gave me a car that was really easy to drive, said Florida's Jason LaPoint. "I'm surprised to have qualified this well in my first race, but I guess I shouldn't be considering the quality of the team. I've done well here in the past in the F2000 series; I set a track record, started from the pole and finished second, so I know my way around Road America. David and the team have been extraordinarily generous with helping me on setups, interpreting data and all the rest. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."
Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) rounded out the three rookies in the top five turning a lap of 2:02.838 seconds (118.634 mph). Hand was fastest in the morning practice session but failed to translate it over to qualifying this afternoon.
Tomorrow's pivotal 17-lap race in the Championship fight between Orsi and Rutledge will get under way at 2:30 p.m. CST. A win could further cushion Orsi's Championship hopes with only three events remaining after Road America, or a mistake could set the stage for a three race shootout with Rutledge.
ESPN2 and ESPN International will broadcast Sunday's Round 9 race from Road America on Sunday, August 26, at 10:00 a.m. ET, while Atlantic fans in Canada can watch the race on CTV SportsNet on Tuesday, August 21, at 7:00 p.m. in the East, Ontario and Pacific time zones, 4:00 p.m. in the West Zone. CTV repeat dates are: ONTARIO, Monday, August 27, 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, August 28, 1:00 p.m., WEST, Tuesday, August 21, 7:00 p.m. There are no repeat dates for the EAST and PACIFIC time zones. ESPN2 will replay the race on Saturday, September 1, at 4:30 a.m. ET.